March 2, 2017
Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. said Wednesday that efforts to eliminate national rape kit backlogs have led to 70 arrests in cold cases.
Vance's office committed $38 million in grants to 32 jurisdictions in 20 states across the U.S. starting in 2015 to eliminate backlogs of untested sexual assault evidence kits. Matching funds from the federal government have helped speed up the process.
Vance shared the latest numbers as he joined the Women's City Club of New York at John Jay College of Criminal Justice to discuss justice reform and gender-based violence.
"All over this country, jurisdiction after jurisdiction, these rape kits are being prepared after assaults but they're never analyzed," Vance said. "And in each of those cases, a woman who had cooperated with law enforcement, reported the crime, has to live with the knowledge that her assailant may still be out there and no one has ... (taken the) first step to try to find out who he is."
The testing has led to 70 arrests and 2,500 hits out of about 6,000 rape kits, Vance said.
Of the approximately 2,500 DNA profiles generated from testing rape kits thus far, there have been approximately 1,150 hits – approximately a 45% success rate.
A DNA sample matching to a national database is considered a hit.
"The rate of hits in kits is extraordinarily high," he said.